So there are thousands of images on Pinterest alone, and there is perhaps no way to see all of the resource images which exist from the 1940s (or any other era). Still, after a while you do start to become familiar with many images, and your eye may begin to crave new never before seen (by you of course, not in the history of all time) resources. At least that was part of my excuse for spending some pretty pennies on a huge Montgomery Ward catalog that definitely has more pages covering farm equipment and spark plugs than it does womens fashion. The pages on womens fashion however...are AMAZING!
Of course I didn't purchase this frail cracking old catalog for myself really, I bought it for us! I'm still not exactly sure the best way to digitize the pages for study, but I have started taking some photos with my camera in RAW format to capture as much detail as I can with less than ideal lighting. I have spliced pages together using two photos to get a clearer image of each side, but they are paired with their original partner just as they appear in the catalog. I have only lightly edited these for contrast and light, but the yellowed/brown color of the paper is evident. Some pages are printed in full color and are so gorgeous!
Page one features coats in fun bright colors for spring! I am super excited to share these images with you and study a few in more detail. It is really great to see the clothes of course, but also how they are worn and styled! Studying the accessories paired with the different ensembles helps grow my understanding of how different styles of hats were worn for example. Since I left these images pretty big you can zoom in and read the text accompanying each item and get details on the fabric and different colors something might have come in!
For example these suits are described as follows:
"Classic Suit...Key to a summer-long wardrobe, made to mate with all the pieces on these 2 pages. High fashion colors in acetate and spun rayon, crepey cross weave. Jacket described Pg. 5. Skirt has new slimness; 1 kick pleat, front, back. Concealed button side placket; 1 1/2 in. hem. Dry clean. Colors: Brt. Red, Mint Green, or Tabacco-Brown. Misses sizes: 12, 14, 16, 18, 20...2-pc. Suit $10.75, Skirt only $4.50"
More color for pages 6 & 7 (they consider the cover page 1 oddly). Honestly I'd love one of each of everything on these pages! These beige suits and plaid dresses are super dreamy. Notice how the suits are styled: The first with a colorful plaid as the blouse, matching plaid belt and hat, and worn with black gloves. The second suit is paired with monochromatic hat and gloves that match the suit but bring out the brown buttons on the suit with a brown clutch handbag and accent the neutrals with a peacock blue scarf at the neck. The plaid dresses are both paired with matching gloves and hat sets, in black and blue respectively.
Next we have a page highlighting some fabrics available by the yard. This information is quite useful for those of us who sew reproduction clothes as it tells us exactly what our vintage counterparts were using and had access to. Underneath these we see more accessories presented as sets! Each of these is provided along with suggestions for which colors to wear them with.
A page of ensembles in a color they describe as "dusty aqua". All are styled with either brown or matching blue accessories. Note also the matching self fabric belts with the sea shell print rayon dresses. Great variety of hat styles and hair styles too!
The hits just keep coming, I mean a bright yellow suit paired with striking black accessories? Yes please! Check out all of the different ways hat veiling is used here too! The hat in the center insert on page 13 (above right) comes in several colors: "Black, Navy, or Light Gray--each with matching veil, white dots; Beige with brown veil." Once again, I'd like one of each please <3
Here we get a size chart, and it turns out in 1943 I am a size 20, so now I know how to fill out the order form, too bad I'll need a time machine to mail it in! The dress on the right with the thin darts radiating arrows across the bodice though... Light blue, aqua or navy blue ladies. Damn that's gorgeous!
More, more, and more beautiful dresses here on pages 16 & 17. Details to note include the way the dress waist darts drape over the belt in the second dress from the left (dress C) and the cord trimming on the pockets of the first jacket on page 17 (D). Also more fantastic hats, give me all the hats.
Look at all these matching covered belts! I need to up my belt making game obviously. The full front view of these dresses shows perfectly just where the darts are and my mind immediately imagines the pattern modifications needed to create each style. So many ideas for things to sew, just endless variations. If only it were easier to find rayon crepe! Also on an editorial note, how "photoshop" are these layouts with the photos totally cut out on the white background? More proof that manipulating photos isn't a modern invention. It is so nice to see clothing in photographs and not just drawings. As much as I adore the drawings from pattern envelopes (and I really do), it is so great to see the clothes on real people.
Again, just....I WANT THESE! *sigh* Anyways, splash prints forever please. Also can these gals teach me how to get my hair just like theirs? I've run out of things to say, every dress is dream worthy gorgeous.
And as I am out of words, I'll stop here for now! Don't you worry though, I've got dozens of pages to show you, and those are just of the clothes! I still have to photograph the accessories, fabrics and even interior decor pages if anyone is interested in those too. I'll have to see how much it would cost to get this catalog scanned on a large format scanner but I'm afraid that could get pricey with so many pages. I'm not sure, I just know I want to preserve these pages somehow as the brittle old paper is already suffering in places and you can tell it longs to turn to dust. I wonder what happened to the archives of these catalogs they must have had in storage at some point at Wards, I assume they threw them out at some point long before they eventually closed. What a missed opportunity to publish the collected fashion sections as a several volume reference book series for us retro ladies. Hopefully other companies see the value in such archives but I doubt it!
I hope you enjoyed these pages, let me know if you want a more detailed photo of any of the pages ;)